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#42 The Designer’s Role in Reversing Climate Change with Michael Leggett & Jacob Farny of Nori

October 9, 2018

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If you’re a technologist or designer who happens to be passionate about reversing climate change, what do you do? Join an advocacy group? Donate to a nonprofit organization? Write your congressperson? What if you could leverage your skill set and play an active role in reducing the amount of CO2in the atmosphere? 

Jacob Farny is the Principal Product Designer at Nori. His background in design and consulting spans a variety of industries, from healthcare to retail to big data. Jacob’s role at Nori leverages his training in human computer interaction and user research. Michael Leggett serves as Nori’s Director of Product. His resume includes 13-plus years of building design teams at Google and Facebook, where he led several projects in user experience, including Gmail, Messenger, and Facebook Ads.

Today, Jacob and Michael join Ross and Christophe to explain the concept of human-centered design and how it informs their work at Nori. They discuss the challenge of teaching users what they need to know without making a product too complex and walk us through the three pillars of high-quality product design. Listen in for insight around how the Nori product adds a third layer to the typical product design model and learn how the team is applying their unique skill sets to reverse climate climate change.

Resources 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide Series

Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future by David Grinspoon

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Nori’s Crowdfunding Campaign

Key Takeaways

[2:39] Jacob’s role at Nori

  • User interface, research
  • Product workflow (based on personas)

[4:13] The concept of human-centered design

  • Start with users, find appropriate solution
  • Experience matters more than features

[8:30] Jacob’s roots in Indiana

  • Grew up surrounded by farmland
  • Developed ‘Bill’ persona

[13:46] Michael’s journey to Nori

  • Grew up considering form and function
  • Job at Google as designer (10 years)
  • Moved by Inconvenient Truth
  • 100-day plan to work in climate space

[17:46] Michael's role at Nori

  • Storytelling (investors, customers, each other)
  • Contribute ‘strong opinions held loosely’ 

[20:57] The abstracting vs. teaching design schema

  • Transparent about important stuff
  • Drive car without understanding engine
  • Leverage mental model (relate to familiar) 

[24:28] The three pillars of quality product design

  1. Simple—don’t make people think
  2. Useful—solve real problem
  3. Well-made—reliable, robust and beautiful 

[27:11] The Nori Design Team three-layer cake metaphor

  • Products include front- and back-end
  • Nori adds methodologies for storing CO2
  • Design instruction manual to measure, verify
  • Must consider how fits into ‘Bill’s life’

[31:28] What has surprised Jacob and Michael

  • Mitigation vs. carbon capture and storage
  • Concepts of soil science (inexact models)

[36:25] Nori’s so-called software approach  

  • Provides route for technologist to work on issue
  • Potential users part of marketplace test

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